New Orleans Jailer Makes Positive Move to Reduce Jail Population!

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman

Orleans Parish Criminal Sheriff Marlin Gusman


Marlin Gusman is on the hot seat. He’s got a brand new jail but inmate deaths, and other large problems hound him. In an attempt to fix matters before things get any worse, Gusman has hired a public defender client advocate and Loyola University graduate to attempt to reduce prison population by 21 percent within 24 months. That is hefty but doable plan. The new employee will determine where to house inmates when the jail is full; identify inmates that may safely be released; and hasten court processing in matters that have been unduly delayed, according to a sheriff’s office news release issued earlier this week.

Virginia B. Ryan will serve as Justice System Administrator for the sheriff’s office. The job was created using funds from a $1.5 million grant awarded to the sheriff’s office by the John D and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation to lower the jail’s population and reduce purported racial and ethnic disparities in the criminal justice system nationwide, according to the news release.

Ryan graduated from Loyola with a degree in sociality, then in 2010 joined the Orleans Parish Defender’s Office as a client advocate. According to the news release, Ryan works for the wrongful-conviction nonprofit Resurrection after Exoneration organization.  Over the last few months, federal court officials and inmate advocates  have pressured Ryan’s boss, Gary Maynard, to hire key staff positions that been unfilled of late, in light of the raft of multiple jail suicides that have once again hounded Gusman again.

New Hiree Virginia Ryan

We’re pleased to have someone with Virginia’s experience join our team, Maynard wrote in the news release.  She has a strong working relationship with our criminal justice partners, so we anticipate that she will have an immediate impact on our ability to navigate cases through the criminal justice system more equitably.

This is all very good. Gusman’s performance has been very spotty on a lot of levels for a long time, and this move finally might steer him in a better direction. The first job of a boss is to hire the most competent staff possible, and then let them do their jobs.

Ryan comes at a very needed time for Orleans Parish Prison. Public Defender funding has been cut severely and in April, nine former and current New Orleans public defenders took to 60 Minutes to rail against the budget reductions, which they believe causes unwarranted imprisonment of innocent people because public defenders were too overworked to properly defend them.

~ by neworleansmusicman on July 19, 2017.

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